“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:4-5)
Most of us are familiar with the parable Jesus taught of the vine and the branches, but I suspect few if any of us understand the full implications of it. The importance of having a better understanding is highlighted by the parable’s punchline: “… apart from me you can do nothing”.
“Meno” is the Greek word in this parable we translate into English as “abide”. “Meno” means “abide”, “remain”, “dwell”, “stay” or “be continuously joined with and connected to”. Just as a branch must remain joined to the grapevine to receive essential nutrients, stay alive and produce grapes, so we must stay joined with Christ to have everlasting life and “bear fruit” for His Kingdom on the earth. And just as a grapevine needs branches to produce grapes, so Jesus needs His disciples to bring forth His fruit on earth.
This fruit we are to produce is elsewhere called the “good works” God prepared for us to do after we became new creations in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 5:17) As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us. (John 20:21) We prove ourselves to be His disciples by producing much fruit. (John 15:5, 8)
And this fruit is not limited to “church work” or those other times we feel we are overtly serving the Christian faith. As disciples, our call to good works includes everything we do and say – in our marriage, our parenting, our workplace and elsewhere. (Colossians 3:17-24) Everything is to be in the name of the Lord.
Does this sound difficult? Of course it is! That is why we can only accomplish it by staying joined with Jesus.
Who is the greatest example of this parable? Jesus, whose whole life on earth was a model for what our lives are to be. (1 John 2:6)
Jesus emptied Himself of divine power when He descended from heaven and became like one of us. (Philippians 2:5-8) Then, at His baptism, the Holy Spirit descended from heaven upon Jesus, and “remained”. (John 1:32) “Meno”, the same Greek word from our vine and branches parable, is used here to describe what happened to Jesus.
As a result, Jesus became full of the Holy Spirit and power so He could begin His ministry on earth. (Luke 4:1, 14) Through the Holy Spirit, Jesus became fully rejoined with the Father – “with Him” in power and purpose. (Acts 10:38) Jesus was in the Father and the Father was in Him. (John 14:10) From that time on, Jesus spoke what the Father directed Him to speak, and only did what He saw His Father doing. (John 5:19-20, 12:49-50)
Now the same Holy Spirit that filled Jesus lives in His disciples. This is how we can be in Jesus and He can be in us. In addition, His teachings and commandments can abide in us through faithful study of the Bible. (John 15:7-8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17) And His more specific directions for our lives can come through prayer and the leading of His Spirit. (Matthew 4:1; Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18) Just like Jesus with the Father, we become empowered to join the Lord in what we see Him doing.
Do we want to have “much fruit” rather than “nothing” in our marriage, parenting, workplace, friendships, and other endeavors? Then we need to join with Jesus in all of those things, remembering that the Lord is living inside us to direct and empower our efforts.
Every disciple is also called to serve the Lord in their communities. (Acts 1:8) If we want to see “much fruit” rather than “nothing” in our region, we must be ready to join the Lord in what He is doing around us. And there are three tremendous things the Lord is presently doing where we all need to join Him.
First, on April 27-29, the TriCities Region Will Graham Celebration will be held at Freedom Hall in Johnson City. Every one of us should be inviting our friends and family who are lost, “back-slid” or un-churched to join us in attending this powerful time of worship and evangelism.
Second, on May 18-19, the Holy Friendship Summit will be held at Celebration Church in Blountville, bringing clinical experts and Christian leaders and workers together to stand against the opioid epidemic that is ravaging our land. How important is that?!
Third, Adoration 2018 is working to bring representatives of 1,000 churches together on October 21 at the ETSU Mini Dome to worship and glorify Jesus Christ. This is a spectacular ministry that can impact both our region and college campuses across the nation! Is your church signed up? What about the churches of your family and friends?
Let’s all join with the Lord in everything we do. Together, we will become gloriously fruitful!
God bless you and God bless our community.